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Alcohol Treatment Info

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Not unlike other diseases and illnesses, alcoholism can be overcome with prevention, professional alcohol treatment, and increased research efforts.

As serious as alcohol dependence is, fortunately it can be treated. Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean that there is a cure for alcohol addiction.

What it does mean, however, is that if alcohol treatment is received early enough, the person can usually attain sobriety and start on the road to alcohol recovery.

Treating alcoholism typically includes a combination of counseling, education, support, prescribed medications, and follow-up rehab to help an individual quit drinking.

In fact, this combination may be the current best treatment scenario.

Stated differently, after treating people and helping them overcome their addiction via medications, education, and support, counseling and follow-up rehab can then teach them how to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will help them avoid an alcohol relapse and remain sober.

Most forms of alcohol treatment take place in an alcohol rehab hospital, drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic, or an alcohol treatment center.

Frequently, the first step utilized in the treatment of alcohol addiction is detoxification, a process which lets the body rid itself of alcohol while controlling the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a harm-free environment.

While detoxification is a necessary first step, much more is involved in the alcohol treatment process than detoxification.

An Essential But Basic Question: What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence and alcohol addiction, is an increasingly degenerative disease that includes the following four symptoms.

  • Craving: having a strong urge or need to drink.

  • Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, nausea, perspiration, and "the shakes" when abstaining from alcohol.

  • Tolerance: the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to feel a "buzz" or to get "high."

  • Loss of control: an inability to stop drinking after the first drink.

Alcoholic Symptoms

Concerning alcoholic symptoms (also called alcoholism symptoms by some people), it is important to point out that social, psychological, and spiritual alcoholic symptoms can be just as painful and problematic as the better-known physical alcoholic symptoms.

Alcoholic symptoms affect alcoholics when they drink, when they try to quit drinking, when they go through the sobriety and recovery process and, unfortunately, when they go through alcohol withdrawal symptoms. When discussing the topic of alcoholic symptoms, keep the following in mind.

First, alcoholism leads to a series of painful and destructive emotional, spiritual, social, and physical symptoms that will get progressively worse unless the alcoholic quits drinking.

Second, an important step in the recovery process is acknowledging that drinking has become a problem and having the desire and the motivation to stop drinking.

Third, once the alcoholic reaches this point, the next issue to resolve is how to best handle the alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically follow. According to medical research, everyone who experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms needs to get professional alcohol treatment.

Fourth, the most effective and logical way to deal with one's alcohol withdrawal symptoms is to immediately see a doctor or healthcare provider so that he or she can evaluate the severity of the your drinking problem and suggest the most effective form of treatment.

Treatment for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: An Overview

Similar to other diseases and medical conditions, alcoholism can be overcome with proper alcohol treatment, prevention, and increased research.

By providing more individuals with access to quality treatment for alcohol abuse and alcoholism, the costly drain on society and the financial, emotional, and physical burdens this disease places on families can be reduced to a great extent.

Indeed, research has shown irrefutable evidence that successful prevention and professional alcohol and treatment programs result in significant reductions in child abuse, HIV, heart disease, strokes, crime, unwanted pregnancy, traffic fatalities, and cancer.

Furthermore, quality drug and alcohol treatment improves health, job performance, and quality of life while at the same time reducing family dysfunction, drug use, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

The treatment for alcohol dependency usually employs a combination of counseling and alcohol treatment medications to help a person refrain from drinking.

Even though most alcoholics need professional assistance in order to recover from their disease, research has revealed that with support and alcohol treatment, many individuals are able to abstain from drinking and reclaim their lives.

Does this mean that there is a cure for alcohol addiction? Unfortunately, the medical community has not yet developed a cure for alcohol addiction. That's the bad news. The good news, however, is this: if the disease is treated early enough, alcohol recovery is a definite possibility.

In short, while the negative terms that are associated with "alcohol" are many, a more positive association of terms includes the phrase "alcohol and treatment" mainly because with treatment, an individual can overcome alcohol abuse or alcoholism and start on the road to alcohol recovery.

Alcohol and Treatment: Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

When the terms alcohol and treatment are discussed, one of the first things that comes to mind concerns alcohol withdrawal symptoms. When an alcoholic abruptly quits drinking alcohol, he or she usually suffers from alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as depression, headaches, rapid heart rate, and feeling nervous.

Even with professional treatment, these symptoms may take days or weeks before the body returns to "normal."

A number of various techniques exist for treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms. While many, if not most of these treatment approaches use medications, a number of alcohol therapies, conversely, do not.

Indeed, according to current research findings, the safest way to treat mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms is without medications.

Such non-drug detoxification programs use screening and extensive social support throughout the entire withdrawal process. Other non-drug detoxification therapies, additionally, use proper nutrition and vitamin therapy (especially thiamin) when treating mild withdrawal symptoms.

Mild to Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following represents mild to moderate physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically take place within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Vomiting

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Clammy skin

  • Sweating (especially on the palms of the hands or on the face)

  • Sleeping difficulties

  • Abnormal movements

  • Tremor of the hands

  • Loss of appetite

  • Looking pale

  • Nausea

  • Involuntary movements of the eyelids

  • Enlarged or dilated pupils

  • Pulsating headaches

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following is a list of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that usually occur within 48 to 96 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Black outs

  • Fever

  • Convulsions

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

  • Seizures

  • Severe autonomic nervous system overactivity

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Muscle tremors

Traditional Forms of Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

There are numerous traditional alcohol treatment methodologies that are relatively well established and considered "mainstream" therapies.

The following alcohol treatments and programs, all of which are considered "traditional" approaches, will be discussed: Detoxification, Behavioral Treatment, Therapeutic Medications, Outpatient Alcoholism Treatment and Counseling, Residential Alcoholism Treatment Programs and Inpatient Alcohol Rehab, and Family and Marital Counseling.

It might be pointed out that most of these traditional approaches are undertaken in an alcohol treatment center, rehab hospital, or a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic.

In short, the treatment of alcohol addiction consists of a wide variety of approaches that have been relatively successful in helping people stop drinking and start on the road to alcohol recovery.

Detoxification

Alcohol detoxification is the process of letting the body rid itself of alcohol while managing the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.

Alcohol detoxification treatment is usually done under the supervision of a medical practitioner and is frequently the first step employed in an alcohol and treatment program.

Behavioral Treatments

Behavioral treatments such as Motivation Enhancement Therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are often employed in the treatment of alcohol addiction.

A study administered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that each of these behavioral treatment therapies significantly reduced drinking in patients the year after treatment.

Although all of these programs were considered "successful," none of them was classified as "the best" alcohol treatment program.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous is a mutual support program for recovering alcoholics that is based on the 12-steps of recovery that are used to stay sober. Help and support are provided by the regularly scheduled meetings.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous the best form of alcohol treatment? While Alcoholics Anonymous is an effective therapeutic approach, most practitioners outside of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as many people inside Alcoholics Anonymous, believe that Alcoholics Anonymous works best when combined with other forms of treatment such as medical care and/or psychotherapy.

Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET)

Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a systematic therapeutic approach that is almost 180 degrees different from Alcoholics Anonymous in that it uses motivational strategies to activate the client's own change mechanisms.

Some of important characteristics of MET regarding the treatment of alcohol dependency are the following:

  • Providing the client with a number of alternative change options

  • Receiving clear advice to make healthy changes

  • Emphasis on taking personal responsibility for positive change

  • Therapist empathy

  • Providing feedback regarding the personal risks or damage associated with the abuse

  • Helping the client achieve self-efficacy or a sense of optimism

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

There are several forms of cognitive behavior therapy. Most of them, however, when focusing on alcohol and treatment have the following commonalties:

  • CBT approaches are based on the cognitive model of emotional response. That is, if we change the way we think, we can act and feel better, even if the situation doesn't change.

  • CBT uses the Socratic Method that is based on the asking of questions for insight.

  • CBT is based on stoic philosophy. CBT does not tell clients how they should feel. Rather, this form of therapy focuses on helping clients learn how to think more logically and effectively.

  • CBT theory and techniques rely on the Inductive Method. This method has clients look at their thoughts as hypotheses (or suggested explanations) that can be tested and questioned. If clients discover that their hypotheses are incorrect, they can then change their thoughts and feelings to be more in line with reality.

  • In CBT, a solid therapeutic relationship is necessary but not the primary focal point for effective therapy.

  • CBT is structured and directive.

  • CBT is a mutually shared effort between the therapist and the client.

  • CBT is based on an educational model that views most emotions and behavioral reactions as learned responses. Thus, the therapeutic goal is to help the client unlearn undesirable reactions and emotions and replace them with new and more positive ways of feeling and reacting.

  • CBT usually has therapeutic sessions that are briefer and fewer in number than most other forms of therapy.

  • Homework is a central feature of CBT.

  • CBT is based on stoic philosophy. CBT does not tell clients how they should feel. Rather, this form of therapy focuses on helping clients learn how to think more logically and effectively.

Therapeutic Medications

The treatment of alcohol addiction from this therapeutic framework centers on medications that are prescribed by medical doctors to treat alcohol dependency or severe cases of alcohol abuse.

Many alcohol substance abuse scientists and practitioners claim that chronic alcoholics who cannot maintain sobriety should receive doctor-prescribed medications to treat and manage their alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Another major benefit of this form of medications-focused treatment is that people who are alcohol dependent are less likely to experience seizures and/or possible brain damage when they receive therapeutic medications for their addiction.

The Benzodiazepines

Alcohol addiction researchers have recently discovered that the benzodiazepines are the medications most likely to produce positive results when treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Examples include the longer-acting benzodiazepines such as Librium and Valium and the shorter-acting benzodiazepines such as Serax and Ativan.

Traditionally, when medical practitioners used benzodiazepines, they used a progressive decrease in doses over the time-frame of the withdrawal process.

Intermediate To Short Half-Life Benzodiazepines

A number of alcoholism practitioners and scientists have found that intermediate to short half-life benzodiazepines should be used when treating withdrawal symptoms.

These alcoholism professionals made their decision based on the following two points. First, the shorter-acting benzodiazepines do not remain in the person's blood for an excessive period of time.

And second, the shorter-acting benzodiazepines can be administered via measurable and observable dose reductions.

Medications To Prevent Alcohol Relapse

Another facet of alcoholism treatment with therapeutic medications focuses on different drugs such as disulfiram (Antabuse) or naltrexone (ReViaT that are prescribed by a health care professional to help prevent the individual from returning to drinking after he or she has experienced a relapse.

In a word, in this treatment approach, doctors prescribe various drugs to treat a person's addiction.

For instance, antabuse produces negative effects such as flushing, dizziness, vomiting or nausea if the alcoholic ingests alcohol.

Needless to say, antabuse is effective mainly because it is such a strong deterrent. Naltrexone (ReViaT), conversely, is effective because it targets the brain's reward circuits and reduces the craving the alcoholic has for alcohol.

Outpatient Alcoholism Treatment and Counseling

There are various approaches to counseling that teach alcoholics how to become aware of the psychological and situational "triggers" of their problem drinking.

Armed with this information, alcoholics can then learn about different ways in which they can cope with situations that do not include the use of alcohol. These types of alcohol treatment methodologies, unlike detox therapies, are usually offered on an outpatient basis.

Residential Alcohol Treatment Programs and Inpatient Alcohol Rehab

If there's a need for alcohol AND drug abuse treatment, if the person's withdrawal symptoms are excessive, if a person needs alcohol poisoning treatment, of if outpatient and support-oriented programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous are ineffective, the person usually needs to enroll into a rehab hospital or a residential alcohol treatment center and receive inpatient alcohol rehab treatment.

Such alcohol and treatment programs are usually geared for alcoholic inpatients and typically include doctor-prescribed medications to help the alcoholic get through detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment in a harmless manner.

Family and Marital Counseling

Since the recovery process is so intimately related to the support the person receives from his or her family, a number of alcohol and treatment programs include marital and family counseling as essential aspects in the treatment protocol.

Such therapeutic programs, furthermore, may also provide alcoholics with essential community resources, such as childcare courses, job training, legal assistance, parenting classes, and financial management classes.

Alternative Alcohol Treatment Therapies

Although the research findings are unclear, there are some alternative treatment approaches for alcohol abuse and alcoholism that are becoming more widely used and "mainstream."

There are various therapeutic approaches that are viewed as "natural" forms of alcohol treatment and include the following: the naturalistic and holistic approaches used by Traditional Chinese Medicine, "Drumming out Drugs" (a form of therapy that employs the use of drumming by clients), and various vitamin and supplement therapies.

As promising as these alternative therapies are, more research is required in order to establish their effectiveness and to determine if they provide long-term alcohol treatment success.

Alcoholism Videos

We have included some alcoholism videos so that you can see and hear directly from various people about their struggles with this disease.

If you, a family member, or one of your friends has a "drinking problem," seeing what others have gone through and how they attained successful recovery is much more "real" than any information you can read about.

Furthermore, watching these videos may help you understand what others with a drinking problem are experiencing and why the treatment for alcohol abuse or for alcohol dependency is always an excellent idea. So make sure you look at these excellent videos!

Alcoholism and Depression

While on the topic of alcoholism treatment, it is noteworthy to point out that according to the alcohol abuse and alcoholism research literature, alcoholism and depression frequently occur in the same individual.

This may indeed be associated with the fact that alcohol is a depressant and therefore may be a reason why so many individuals get depressed when they drink in a hazardous and irresponsible manner.

In any event, various research studies stress the point that the individual needs to get quality treatment for both medical conditions if he or she exhibits alcoholism and depression.

A Cure for Alcohol Addiction?

Regrettably, the medical community has not yet created a cure for alcohol addiction. In most instances of alcoholism, is this really a huge issue? Stated another way, with the advancement of alcohol treatment within the past ten years, would a cure for alcohol addiction accomplish significantly more that professional alcohol treatment if the disease is treated early enough?

In other words, if alcoholics truly want to recover from their addiction, then they need to get immediate alcohol treatment before the disease gets out of control and is basically unmanageable. And if alcohol recovery is attainable for the vast majority of alcoholics, doesn't this somewhat make the need for a cure for alcohol addiction less urgent?

Conclusion: Alcohol Treatment Info

A Cure For Alcohol Addiction? In spite of the fact that a cure for alcohol addiction has not been discovered, various drug and alcohol treatment approaches however, have been developed that help individuals recover from alcoholism.

In a word, there is a multitude of alcohol and treatment information that is available, both offline and online.

As a result of this information, alcoholism practitioners currently have access to a wide range of alcohol treatment approaches for their patients.

Some of the methodologies regarding the treatment for alcohol abuse and alcoholism, such as 12-step self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, for instance, have been around a relatively long period of time.

Other approaches pertaining to the treatment for alcohol dependency and alcohol abuse, including brief alcohol intervention and different protocols based on fields other than alcoholism, such as couples therapy and motivational enhancement therapy, are basically new approaches in alcohol treatment that have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing the risk for alcohol-related problems.

The major change that has taken place in the treatment for alcohol addiction and for alcohol abuse, however, has been the introduction of alcoholism clinical research.

Indeed, for the past 10 or 15 years, this area of research has made substantial progress toward a thorough assessment of both existing alcohol-related treatment approaches and more recent methodologies.

Commonly, the first step employed in the treatment of alcoholism is detoxification, a process which rids the body of alcohol while managing the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.

While detoxification is a necessary first step, significantly more is involved in the alcohol treatment process than detoxification.

Continued research on alcohol's effects in the brain and on the connection between the brain and behavior, an area of research that has led to the creation of drugs to reduce craving, is expected to arm alcohol practitioners with an extensive scope of highly specific drugs that will, when employed in combination with various behavioral treatment approaches, improve the likelihood for alcohol recovery and, as a consequence, help those who suffer from alcohol abuse and alcoholism to restore their lives.

Alcohol is a depressant and not a stimulant as claimed by many people who believe that drinking helps them "unwind" and become more energized in social circumstances.

It is this fact, however, that may help explain the fairly typical occurrence of alcoholism and depression in the same person.

What is more, according to alcohol abuse and alcoholism research, when a person displays alcoholism and depression, it is vital for the individual to get treatment for both of these medical conditions.

As a final note, most types of alcohol treatment approach are undertaken in a residential or outpatient alcohol treatment center, rehab hospital, or a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic. In these treatment facilities, a person's alcoholic symptoms can be identified, monitored, and treated in an effective and safe manner.

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image: young man needing alcohol rehab