Alcoholism (also known as alcohol use disorder AUD) is a progressive and chronic disease. This means that without some kind of treatment, alcoholics tend to escalate their drinking amount and frequency over time. It also means that alcoholism cannot be “cured” in the typical sense of the word. Rather, alcoholism is like diabetes; a condition that requires ongoing management.
This does not mean that an alcoholism treatment program cannot help individuals to overcome their addiction and lead happy, healthy, successful lives. Simply that treatment will not miraculously make a “normal drinker” out of an alcoholic in 30 days.
Perhaps you have asked yourself, “How do I know if I have a drinking problem?” Or maybe you’ve wondered, “Do I need alcohol addiction treatment?”
If after contemplating these questions, you’ve decided that you need help, you’ve come to the right place. This article will address different types of alcoholism treatment programs, how to find treatment near you, and how anyone can recover from alcohol addiction.
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab
The most intensive level of care in the treatment of drug addiction or alcoholism is inpatient. Inpatient alcohol rehab typically starts with detoxification. Each individual’s experience with alcohol detox is different, but typically an individual who is dependent on alcohol will experience a similar detox timeline if left untreated.
Untreated Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Day 1: You may begin to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms within 6 to 12 hours after your last drink. These symptoms include headaches, anxiety, and irritability. In addition, you may begin to experience physical symptoms like tremors, disorientation, and seizures as you approach the 24 hour mark.
Day 2: During the second day, the symptoms you experienced in the first 24 hours will increase in intensity. Additionally, you may experience vomiting, hallucinations, and panic attacks.
Days 3-7: Throughout this period, the various symptoms you have been experiencing will come and go. You will likely experience some degree of insomnia during this first week. During this period, you are at the highest risk of delirium tremens, a symptom which can be life-threatening.
After the first week: Symptoms will begin to dissipate or become less frequent. However, even after the most painful symptoms have ended you may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome. PAWS is usually less intense than the initial withdrawal symptoms but can last months.
Seeking a medically assisted alcohol detox lowers the risk of experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms and increases the chances staying sober through early recovery. Typically, on admission to a detox program, patients are first evaluated medically. This evaluation helps to ensure that patients are detoxed properly and that their medical needs are met.
The next step is usually an interview designed to assess a client’s clinical needs. This assessment provides the therapists with insights into a patient’s mental health.
Next clients will usually see a doctor who will prescribe medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. At this point, doctors may also begin a course of treatment for any complications that have come about as a result of alcohol abuse (like cirrhosis, hepatitis, vitamin deficiencies, etc.). Patients are then monitored over the next few days and tapered off of the alcohol using drugs like benzodiazepines, anti-seizure drugs, and anxiety/sleep aids. Medical care is provided for additional physical concerns that may come up.
Residential Alcohol Treatment
Once a patient has been safely detoxed from alcohol, they begin residential treatment which aims to address mental health conditions that may contribute to a patient’s drinking or drug use. The residential level of care at an alcoholism treatment center takes place in a controlled inpatient setting similar to detox. Some of the therapies utilized in a treatment plan include:
- Individual counseling with a licensed therapist
- Behavioral therapies like CBT and DBT
- Group therapy moderated by addiction experts
- Family therapy mediated by psychologists
- Medication management overseen by addiction psychiatrists
- Participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholism PHP Program
Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) offer a step in between residential treatment and outpatient treatment. In a PHP, clients live in a structured sober living environment and receive 6-8 hours per day of individual therapy, group therapy, and other medical and clinical interventions. Unlike residential treatment however, clients receive the freedom to go grocery shopping, cook for themselves, go to the gym, and do other things that are important to fostering independence.
PHP is an especially important element of alcoholism treatment because alcohol is so widely accessible. Recovering alcoholics in a PHP program are eased back into the “outside world” of temptation and relapse risk. They benefit from the accountability and structure of regular supervision and living with others who are recovering from addiction. Some elements of the PHP alcoholism treatment program at All In Solutions Counseling Center include:
- Acute crisis and symptom stabilization
- Medication consultation, education, and management
- Individual, group, and family therapy
- Recreational and wellness therapies
- Random drug screening and breathalyzer tests
Outpatient Alcohol Rehab
IOP and OP
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and outpatient programs offered by specialized addiction treatment centers are a less demanding continuation of the clinical programming offered at the PHP or residential level of care. IOP typically consists of 3-6 group therapy sessions per week and additional individual counseling sessions with a therapist.
At the IOP level of care, because most clients have established the beginning of a foundation in recovery, additional services are offered. These services might include family therapy, gender-specific (male only and female only) processing groups, 12-step based recovery meetings, faith-based recovery support, trauma therapy, holistic treatment methods like yoga therapy or art therapy, and more.
Alcohol Abuse Counseling
Addiction counselors are certified professionals who have received training in psychology, human behavior, chemical dependency, and therapeutic procedures. These therapists assist persons suffering from behavioral problems (mainly substance abuse) by discussing the complexity and origins of their addiction. Clients will work one-on-one with substance abuse counselors to build goals and methods for achieving recovery, all in a caring and confidential setting. Many alcohol abuse counselors are private therapists who will see clients in an outpatient office setting and even online for virtual addiction counseling.
Medications for Alcoholism
Certain prescription medications can help alcoholics to stay sober when combined with the kinds of therapies mentioned above. These medications include naltrexone (brand name Vivitrol), acomprosate (brand name Campral), and disulfiram (brand name Antabuse).
Vivitrol, which is often given as a time-release injection (Vivitrol shot) works by reducing the reinforcing pleasurable feelings produced by alcohol and by reducing cravings in the first place. According to the manufacturer, individuals who plan to use Vivitrol should stop drinking prior to beginning the medication.
Antabuse works similarly, but rather than reducing the pleasurable effects of alcohol it actually produces unpleasant reactions when combined with alcohol. Campral, unlike the others, actually takes effect in the brain to counteract the neural changes that come about as a result of chronic alcohol use to reduce alcohol cravings.
These 3 drugs are the only medications approved by the FDA to treat alcoholism. Some new medications, like Declinol, use herbal extracts like kudzu to reduce alcohol intake. While studies have shown kudzu to be effective, Declinol is not FDA approved and has only been verified by studies performed by parties with a financial interest in the company.
Support Groups and Alcoholics Anonymous
AA, or alcoholics anonymous meetings, can be a powerful tool to help people in recovery. AA meetings utilize the 12-step recovery model and are held in various locations most hours of the day. AA meetings can provide support and give people a place to seek help if they feel cravings to drink.
For individuals who may be averse to 12-step recovery, other support groups are available. The groups include SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, LifeRing, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety. Online support groups exist as well on websites like Reddit, Facebook, and other social media sites.
Alcoholism Treatment Programs at All In Solutions
All In Solutions Counseling Center offers a safe and comfortable environment where clients can focus on their overall health physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our team of clinical experts will work with you to address both alcoholism and any co-occurring mental or physical health concerns. Our fully individualized alcoholism treatment programs provide the support necessary to begin recovery and the life skills necessary for long-term sobriety.
All In Solutions offers inpatient and outpatient treatment at several locations. A supportive alumni program and family therapy program ensure that our clients stay on track long after they have left our treatment center. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol use disorder, don’t hesitate to call All In Solutions today.