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Treatment For Alcoholism – Alcohol Rehab Guide

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Most of us come into contact with various types of alcoholic beverages throughout our daily lives. Even though alcohol is legal and ever-present, its use comes with substantial risks and caveats. Moderate consumption of alcohol does not carry a great risk for most people, but medical professionals always err on the side of caution when it comes to advising people to cut back their daily intake.1

One of the most concerning developments during the previous few years is the rise in binge drinking. According to the criteria of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is a pattern of episodic excessive alcohol intake that results in a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. Translated into the number of drinks consumed within 2 hours, this roughly corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks for adult males, or 4 or more for adult females.2

Excessive use of alcohol causes many physical and mental health problems. Some of the most common conditions caused by immoderate drinking are liver cirrhosis, hypertension, alcoholic liver disease, and various forms of cancer. Chronic alcohol use also leads to deadly outcomes. CDC’s Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) reports that alcohol misuse ended more than 140,000 lives in the US during the 2015-2019 period.3

Although overcoming alcoholism isn’t easy and may require years of treatment, there are multiple proven ways to fight this condition. However, most people aren’t aware of the advances and new developments when it comes to treatment for alcoholism. Much more needs to be done to raise awareness of the existence of quality alcohol treatment options, especially among vulnerable individuals who are more exposed to excessive alcohol consumption.1

What are the Types of Alcohol Rehab Programs? 

Since drinking represents a way of life for many alcoholics, treatment for alcoholism has to focus not only on the immediate effects of drinking but on the root causes as well. People turn to alcohol to seek comfort or solace from daily issues that they are unable to resolve. This slowly turns into a behavioral pattern. Chronic alcohol use changes the way people’s brains work. Excessive drinking patterns then turn this situation into a new normal.4

Alcoholism is today called alcohol use disorder (AUD) to avoid the stigma that is associated with the previous term. AUD is considered to be a mental health issue that has deep-seated consequences for an individual’s physical and mental well-being. As a mental health issue, no two cases of AUD are the same even if they share certain similarities. For this reason, each case of AUD has to be matched with the right type of treatment.5

The most common and effective ways to fight alcohol use disorder are:1

  • Medical detox.
  • Inpatient alcohol rehabilitation.
  • Outpatient alcohol treatment programs.
  • Various forms of therapy.

What is Medical Detox? 

Medical detoxification, usually called detox, is not a recovery approach for the treatment of alcohol use in itself. It is rather a first step of the whole-person approach that takes into account the various medical needs of the patient. Since long-term or excessive drinking saturates the brain and changes its chemistry, patients first need to get rid of harmful substances before they can move on to the next step of recovery.6

Abrupt cessation of alcohol consumption causes numerous unpleasant symptoms. For this reason, cleansing the body of alcohol becomes a painful process that dissuades most people even if they were determined to stop drinking. Medical detox uses proven medications that were tested and approved by the FDA to help people cleanse without having to suffer these unwanted and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.7

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include:8

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Alcohol shakes or tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Hypertension
  • Tachycardia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens

The use of detox medications turns alcohol cleansing into a pain-free process. Detox programs are short-term procedures that last 3 to 7 days in most cases. More stubborn cases of alcoholism may require longer detoxification that can last for up to 14 days. Once they get rid of alcohol, patients are ready to enroll in a rehab program that will best match their particular form of AUD.6

Inpatient Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Probably the gold standard when it comes to alcohol use treatment, inpatient rehabs provide the highest level of patient care. Inpatient programs got their name because patients stay inside a specially designed alcohol treatment center. Alcohol rehab centers provide a structured environment that encourages patients to work on their accountability and develop new routines that will serve them once they get back to the outside world of temptation.9

Inpatient alcohol treatment could be the best choice for people who need help because they are struggling with alcohol-related challenges in their everyday lives. Severe and long-term cases of AUD will greatly benefit from the supportive and caring surroundings provided by an alcohol rehab center. Rehab facility staff will take care of patients’ needs so they can fully concentrate on their alcohol addiction treatment.9

One of the biggest advantages of inpatient alcohol rehabs is that they enable medical staff to monitor the patients’ progress at all times. Not all patients advance through treatment at the same speeds or in the same way. Certain patients may go through one stage of alcohol treatment faster than others, only to then spend more time trying to work through other steps of recovery. The ability to readjust or change treatment is one of the most important characteristics of a successful recovery.9

Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

As the name says, outpatient alcohol treatment enables patients to remain in their homes for the duration of addiction rehab. This is one of the prime reasons why this is the most popular form of rehab in the US today. Certain people are unable to leave their obligations behind and enroll in alcohol use recovery. Some people are unable to leave their children or elderly family members unattended, while others have trouble taking time off from work or pausing their education.10

Outpatient alcohol rehab can be a good choice for people who don’t encounter daily challenges and are still able to fulfill their obligations. It’s also a good option for people who have strong willpower to keep regular appointments and a stable and supportive home environment that is void of negative influences. Another advantage of outpatient programs is that sessions can be delivered in a variety of settings, including:10

  • Community health centers
  • Hospital-based outpatient clinics
  • Public health clinics
  • Non-hospital-based clinics and physician offices
  • Retail clinics
  • Urgent care centers
  • Ambulatory surgical centers
  • Ambulatory behavioral health and substance abuse clinics.

Like inpatient rehabs, outpatient programs can be adjusted to meet the varying needs of individuals who are at different stages of alcoholism. Programs that are designed to tackle severe alcoholism are called intensive outpatient treatment (IOT). Whereas normal outpatient programs include up to 9 hours of sessions per week, IOT can be modified to include up to 30 hours. Patients who need more than 6 hours of daily sessions or more than 30 hours per week are enrolled in Partial hospitalization programs (PHP). In many ways, PHP resemble inpatient care since patients spend most parts of their day in treatment.10

Therapy for Alcoholism 

Psychological therapies include a variety of therapeutic treatments that help people deal with emotional and behavioral issues that form the root causes of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehabs utilize therapies as part of a whole-person approach whose end goal is both physical and mental health recovery.11

Psychotherapy is often called talking therapy or talking medicine because it tries to encourage people to express their feelings and share their thoughts about various issues they face in everyday life. Therapy is important in building a strong foundation and developing coping skills that addicts can turn to once their rehabs are over. Several types of therapy have been proven successful in the treatment of addiction issues, including:12

  • Psychoanalysis, which was first developed by Sigmund Freud. It focuses on a close relationship between the patient and analyst as a way of opening up and exploring pent-up resentment and unresolved issues from the past.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, that focuses on damaging ways of thinking and unhelpful behavioral patterns that emerge as a result of bad decision-making. It teaches problem-solving skills that people can use to overcome their addiction difficulties.
  • 12-Step facilitation, that is maybe the most famous and widespread therapeutic approach due to the success of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. 12-Step programs offer a supportive community that encourages people to achieve sobriety through spiritual betterment.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy, that instructs people how to accept past mistakes and manage their emotions to achieve a balanced and healthy outlook that will lead to an improvement in their everyday lives.
  • Motivational interviewing, that helps people set self-improvement goals. It’s a supportive form of therapy that seeks to instill a positive perspective in patients and strengthen their commitment to change.
  • Art therapy, which utilizes the positive effect of art and music. It centers on a patient’s creative expression that helps them express feelings and emotions that were previously inaccessible. It’s especially helpful for people who suffer from numbness, anxiety, or depression because it keeps them occupied and relaxed.

What Happens During an Alcohol Addiction Rehab

Many different routes lead to alcohol addiction recovery. Only once the alcohol treatment starts will patients be able to realize what works for them and what doesn’t. Patients may choose to adjust their treatment based on their behavioral needs, ethnic or religious background, socioeconomic situation, cultural values, individual preferences, or the extent and severity of their alcohol use disorder.1

Although rehab programs differ, certain steps are common to most approaches, including:1

  • Intake assessment – A process that includes an intake interview that is designed to determine a patient’s medical condition, including their psychological and physical situation. The psychosocial assessment also forms an important part of the intake procedure. It’s designed to determine a patient’s exact medical needs to develop a personalized rehabilitation plan that is best suited to tackle their condition.
  • Detox – Detox is an important part of most rehab treatments. Once the patients get rid of the harmful effects of alcohol on their system, they will be able to make a fresh and clean start to their personalized recovery programs.
  • Therapy – Each individual program will differ in terms of the therapeutic approach used and the intensity and duration of settings. Some people will start with individual sessions before working through certain issues and participating in group sessions. Others may start the other way around or with a combination of both approaches.
  • Aftercare – There are several approaches to follow-up care that help people with the critical transition moment from rehab to everyday life. The most popular forms of aftercare are transitional homes, follow-up counseling, and support groups. Transitional homes offer sober living programs that provide a positive alcohol-free environment. Certain follow-up outpatient programs offer weekly counseling sessions that help people stay on the right track. Support groups, like AA meetings, offer people the chance to draw strength and motivation from their peers as they seek to lead a life of sobriety.

How Long Is Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

The duration of alcohol addiction treatment will depend on each case. In some cases, people may try several different programs or alcohol treatment centers before they settle on the one that fits their personal needs. When it comes to alcohol use disorder, relapsing is not uncommon. However, it’s important not to get discouraged and remain determined to find the right solution to your addiction challenges.9

Short-term programs last for 28 days or a month. Short-term programs provide a beneficial foundation for people who sought help before their addiction got out of hand. However, years of clinical experience have shown that patients who submit to long-term treatment achieve the best results. Long-term rehabs usually last for at least 3 months. This enables patients a chance to distance themselves from their previous habits and implement changes that will enable them to achieve long-lasting sobriety.9

How To Choose an Alcohol Addiction Rehab Program? 

Research shows that the most important thing in addiction recovery is making the first step and entering into some type of addiction treatment. The reason for this is that most people find entering into rehab a harder decision to make than changing the type of alcohol rehab approach that isn’t having the desired effect.9

When trying to decide which alcohol treatment program will best match your needs, you should keep a few things in mind. Maybe the most important factor is the severity of alcohol addiction. If everyday life has become unbearable, then enrolling in an alcohol rehab center with 24-hour care is the right option. This also holds for individuals who suffer from mental health challenges in addition to alcohol use issues. This is called co-occurring condition or dual diagnosis and is best treated inside a specialized addiction rehab facility.

Other factors may come into play, including age, gender, or occupation. For this reason, patients have numerous programs to choose from, including:

  • Couples programs.
  • LGBTQ rehabs.
  • Luxury rehab.
  • Jewish-based rehabs.
  • Executive rehab.
  • Veterans programs.
  • Programs for Native Americans.
  • Co-occurring disorder treatment.

How to Get Treatment for Alcoholism

If you’re thinking, “Where can I find alcohol rehab near me”, one of the best options may be to turn to American Addiction Centers for help. American Addiction Centers (AAC) has a wide-ranging network of facilities that offer proven solutions for all types and stages of alcohol addiction. AAC’s facilities are located in secluded but easily accessible locations across the nation. AAC’s facilities are staffed with medical professionals of the highest caliber and utilize state-of-the-art medical equipment and amenities.

You can easily get in touch with AAC through their various alcohol-related hotlines. All hotlines are free and available 24/7, giving people in need an option to talk to somebody who understands their predicament. All calls are confidential and carry no obligation to enter into treatment. You can open up to AAC’s compassionate advisors about all the details and problematic issues related to alcohol use without the fear of legal repercussions.

AAC staff can also provide you with answers and valuable information that can help you decide on the right form of treatment. They can verify your ability to use insurance to pay for treatment, look into benefits you are entitled to, or offer advice about paying for treatment in case you don’t have an insurance policy. If you are not ready to enter into treatment, you can call them and just talk about the fears and doubts you have about treatment in general.

Frequently Asked Questions