Alcoholism is a devastating disease that affected 16.4 million American adults in 2014, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Of those persons, only 1.5 million sought treatment for their alcohol abuse and addiction. Alcohol addiction treatment can be a lifeboat for someone drowning in alcohol addiction. For the individual who wants help, there are several avenues for treatment from which to choose.
Talking with the family physician can be the first step to recovery. If the patient is unwilling to talk, or not even ready to choose treatment, a family member should ask the physician’s advice. The physician will know the medical problems and the behavioural problems that should be taken into account before the patient is admitted to a treatment center.
Treatment centers can have many different approaches. There are some centers that utilize the AA 12-step program and others that avoid it completely. Some treatment centers offer only behavioural therapy, some treat patients after they have been detoxed, and others offer therapy and detox supervision. Motivational programs encourage the individual to seek other activities outside of drinking for their needs. There are medications available that prevent someone from consuming alcohol comfortably. These usually cause immediate vomiting when alcohol is ingested. The treatment success will depend entirely on the willingness of the individual to change.
Detox should only be completed under medical supervision. Withdrawal from alcohol can be fatal. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include delirium tremens, paranoia, confusion, blackouts, hallucinations, irregular heartbeats, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, shakes, and even strokes, all of which should be closely attended by a professional. Dehydration is just one of the withdrawal symptoms that is life-threatening.
Inpatient residential treatment can be for 12 days, 28 days or even longer, depending on the facility. The individual in a residential treatment program is strictly supervised in their schedule, the meetings, the appropriate visitors, and even their rest periods. The residential treatment center does not allow anyone to leave the facility without a staff member to supervise, and outings are usually restricted until the last week of treatment. Every day the individual will have group counselling, individual therapy, and required to attend a support group meeting. There are also courses on coping skills, addiction, and taking care of oneself to avoid relapse.
Outpatient treatment facilities offer therapy to the sober individual for their aftercare program. Some people can go straight to outpatient treatment, but they will not be allowed to attend if they are not sober. Individual and group therapy, and support group attendance, is required at least five days a week. The individual attending outpatient treatment is expected to have employment.
There are also alcohol addiction treatment facilities connected to a hospital or a mental health center. These treatment centers offer dual diagnosis care. Dual diagnosis can be a mental illness and alcohol addiction like depression and addiction, or it can be a physical illness and alcohol addiction, like cirrhosis and addiction. The length of stay in this kind of facility is determined more by the progress of the individual in both diagnoses, rather than a preset term like 30 days or 90 days.