Treatments For Alcohol AbusersAnna Ciulla
Do you need to know more about treatments for alcohol abusers? This guide explores the questions most commonly asked by those considering treatment. For each question, you’ll find a short and clear answer along with links to some of the most important recovery resources.
You’ll learn to identify the signs of alcohol abuse disorder, learn what behaviors lead people to treatment and discover what treatments are now available. You can use what you learn to convince a loved one to seek treatment or to resolve any doubts you personally have about what treatment is like.
Do you need treatment right now? Don’t wait to see a doctor. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Your doctor will help you assess your condition and decide on the level of care necessary
If you’re ready to learn more about alcohol treatment, use the table of contents below to find the answers that you need.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Treatments for Alcohol Abusers?
- Start With Your Doctor
- Learn Treatment Options
- Go to Detox
- See a Counselor or Therapist
- Take Medications
- Join a Group
- What Can I Expect from Treatment?
- What Common Conditions are Treated?
- What is Alcoholism Treatment?
- How Is Alcohol Abused?
- How Can I Identify the Signs of Alcohol Addiction?
- What are the different types of Alcoholics?
- What are the Causes of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse?
- When should someone seek Help For Alcoholism?
- What are the Hidden Costs of Alcoholism
- Alcohol Recovery and Addiction
- Alcohol and Pregnancy – Prenatal Alcohol Abuse
- Getting Help for Alcoholism
Do you have any other questions about how alcohol abuse disorder is treated? We are available if you would like to contact someone about the process of getting help. You may not realize how many resources are out there to help you get well and cover the costs of treatment.
First, let’s look at how alcohol is treated in most cases.
What are the Treatments for Alcohol Abusers?
What is alcohol treatment? Below, you’ll find a path to recovery that is experienced by many people. Some people may wind up using all of the listed options, while others recover using only one or a few of them.
What is alcoholism treatment?
Everyone’s path to recovery is going to be a little different, but if you choose to start with your doctor you’ll at least know what to expect. You can learn more about different alcohol treatments here.
Start With Your Doctor: Family doctors are qualified to diagnose alcohol use disorder with a physical examination and asking a series of questions. Medical diagnosis is important because it allows your doctor to determine if you will need detox or treatment to protect any organs that have been damaged. If you don’t have a family doctor, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration’s national helpline.
Learn the Treatment Options: You do not need any type of diagnosis to qualify for most treatment options. Most groups are open to anyone. Many rehab facilities have doctors on staff who can diagnose abuse disorders without a referral from a general practitioner. Explore the different options with help from someone you trust.
Go to Detox: You’ll be sent to detox if it isn’t safe for you to quit alcohol without medical supervision. In some cases, your doctor will provide you with resources that let you learn how to detox from alcohol at home. Your body must adjust to the absence of alcohol over a period of about a week. Your real alcohol withdrawal timeline will depend on health, weight and other factors. Detoxing can be a tough experience, but support from a dedicated team can make it easier.
See a Counselor or Therapist: Counselors are involved in most treatment plans. If you do not yet have alcohol abuse disorder but are considered at-risk, your doctor may refer you to one. You will work with counselors daily if you choose to enter a rehab facility. It is often wise to work with a counselor to stay committed to recovery after you have successfully left treatment.
Take Medications: You may be prescribed medications during treatment for many reasons. Detox often involves medications to make alcohol withdrawal symptoms less painful or dangerous. Certain prescriptions may be used to treat alcohol-related physical disorders or underlying psychological disorders.
Join a Group: Group therapy is an important part of most treatment plans. It may be recommended or even required for some rehab facility programs. Many people choose to attend weekly meetings after completing medical treatments.
Now you know what treatment means. But what is it like to take the journey toward recovery? In the next section, you’re going to learn what to expect while you’re looking for and going through treatment.
What Can I Expect from Treatment?
Do you want help learning how to stop drinking alcohol? If you are the one seeking treatment, you can expect support, companionship and the freedom to go at your own pace. If you are trying to convince a loved one to get help, make sure that they know all of the following.
First, understand that you will be supported. Experts are in agreement: Alcohol use disorder is a disease, and it has many factors.
If you develop this disorder, it isn’t because you’re less responsible than other people. For people with certain risk factors, even drinking at a “safe” level will lead to serious addiction. Even the light level of drinking that is encouraged in social and professional settings can develop into a serious problem.
Companionship will also be a major part of most paths to recovery. Alcohol abuse disorders lead to isolation and make it more difficult to form or maintain close relationships. Group therapies, including meetings, put you with other people who know how you feel. They allow you to build new networks that will help you handle life after treatment.
Finally, you can expect the freedom to go at your own pace. If you are reluctant to start treatments for alcohol abuse, you aren’t alone. Many people who suffer from abuse disorders find it difficult to say that they need help. Others may feel like they can’t leave their jobs to pursue care.
Whatever your situation, you’ll be able to find care options that fit your schedule and budget.
What Common Conditions Are Treated?
Many people who enter rehab care do so because they are trying to treat specific conditions, not just because they’re ready to seek help. Seeking help can be a way to treat conditions that are starting to cause intense discomfort or isolation.
The people entering treatment this way typically want to resolve a problem in one of the following categories: physical illnesses brought on by excessive alcohol use, harmful habits, and underlying conditions linked to abuse.
Physical Illnesses: Excessive alcohol use can quickly lead to physical problems. Some of them are reversible or more manageable as long as you stop consuming alcohol. For that reason, many people seek treatment so that they can experience less pain, or so that they can begin plans to help their organs recover.
Behavioral Conditions: Alcohol can be harmful even before there are physical problems. Harmful habits can interfere with your social and professional goals. If you are thinking about entering treatment so that you can change your habits in a new environment, you’re not alone. That’s a great reason to enter care.
Underlying Conditions that Lead to Addiction: Sometimes, alcohol abuse occurs with other conditions, such as depression. Many alcohol treatment centers will try to treat conditions like these simultaneously. It is often far more difficult for people to stop abusive behaviors on their own if the abuse is related to other conditions.
How Is Alcohol Abused?
To understand the goals of alcohol treatment, it’s often helpful to understand the ways that alcohol can be abused. “Abuse” is a word that doesn’t always have a clear meaning outside of the medical community. What does it mean to abuse alcohol? How do people abuse alcohol?
Abuse can include any behavior that encourages an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Anyone relying on alcohol to provide something that it cannot safely provide may be said to be abusing it. Here are some of the ways that alcohol can be abused.
As a stress reliever
Using alcohol as a stress reliever is a common and dangerous form of alcohol abuse. People who experience daily stress but don’t seek healthier treatment for it, or cannot afford prescriptions, may choose alcohol as an alternative. Though it can feel like it’s helping, alcohol can easily harm you when used this way.
This abuse can quickly become a problem because alcohol has diminished effects after repeated use. If you’re trying to use alcohol to help you deal with home or work pressures, you’ll have to keep increasing the amount you consume in order to enjoy the same effects.
As a social anti-anxiety drug
Social anxiety is a problem that millions of people face every day. Alcohol is well-known as a social lubricant, and this leads some people to attempt to use alcohol as a way to overcome the nervousness they feel in social situations. This behavior becomes abusive when alcohol becomes a crutch for people to get through social situations.
Social drinking can easily become an excuse to drink excessively, especially if it is justified as necessary to function socially. While alcohol can reduce inhibitions, it does not help anyone improve socially. When it becomes relied on for socializing, it has become a problem.
As a way to dampen mental illness symptoms
One of the most dangerous ways that alcohol is abused is as a mental disorder treatment. When people refuse to seek care, they may turn to alcohol to manage pain, insomnia, hyperactivity and other problems that may result from mental disorders. This is not effective, and it can easily lead to other disorders.
Alcohol is not a treatment for any condition, and it is particularly dangerous when it is used to self-medicate mental illnesses. Alcohol can complicate many mental illnesses over time, and it will not resolve any symptoms–only dull them.
If you or a loved one abuses alcohol in any of the ways described above, you should talk to someone about alcohol treatment. These patterns of abuse often lead to illness or addiction. If you cannot stop relying on alcohol by yourself, you may need the help of a doctor.
Are you or a loved one abusing alcohol? Find out more in the next section: how to identify the signs of alcohol addiction.
Can you spot abuse? How to identify the signs of an alcohol addiction
The three types of abuse covered above can be difficult to spot. If you are engaging in these patterns, you will find it very easy to justify why your behavior does not rise to the level of ‘addiction’. Please speak to a doctor to be sure.
If you are reluctant to approach someone about their potential abuse, don’t feel guilty. No one wants to appear nosy or judgemental. Early intervention in alcohol abuse cases can save lives, but you want to be sure.
If you want to watch for the patterns yourself or learn what to watch for before you approach a loved one, review the signs associated with alcohol abuse.
- Repeated temporary blackouts
- Short-term memory loss
- Extreme mood swings
- Choosing to drink over responsibilities
- Putting distance between friends and family members
- Drinking in secrecy
- Feeling hungover when sober
Learn more in some larger guides into how to spot alcohol abuse.
Types of Alcoholics: What’s the Right Term?
What doctors have learned about addiction in just the last few decades has changed most of what we know.
It can be hard to keep up with the latest understanding of how addiction works, where it comes from and how the latest treatments for alcohol abuse work. It can be hard to even keep up with the right terms if you aren’t involved in addiction treatments.
Most people are aware of some terms that describe people who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Here is a list of recent terms that you may have heard in the last few years, along with some ideas of when and how they should be used.
Alcoholic: This term is not often used medically, though it is still widely used among the general population. It is considered to be an unhelpful term by some care workers because it stigmatizes a disease as if it’s a lifestyle choice. However, many people who are addicted to alcohol still choose to identify themselves this way when seeking help.
Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol can be abused even without the presence of an underlying illness. Any behavior that treats alcohol as a way to achieve a desired mood or effect can be alcohol abuse.
Alcohol use Disorder: This is the new standard term for the range of behaviors that involve continued abuse of alcohol. It is a term that is designed to be broad enough to cover most ways that people may abuse alcohol and be an open definition if our understanding expands in the future.
It’s not helpful to try to label yourself or others with different conditions. You should always speak to a doctor if you are concerned about problem drinking. A doctor will be able to effectively diagnose the level of drinking and the kind of treatment that it requires.
It’s helpful to understand the causes of alcohol disorders because some of the risk factors can be controlled. In the next section, you’re going to learn about different causes, and which ones you have the power to reduce.
What are the Causes of Alcoholism/Alcohol Abuse?
Conclusive testing has not shown that alcohol has a single cause. Instead, there are risk factors based on everything from family history to social pressures. These factors become more intense as people are exposed to more of them. By removing some of these factors from your life, or the life of a loved one, you may be able to halt dangerous behavior before it becomes a habit.
Here are some of the best-understood risk factors.
Family history (both genetics and behavior): Your family history is perhaps the biggest risk factor of all, but it isn’t only about your genetics. Your family’s relationship with alcohol and the behaviors that you observed as a child are also an important part of your family history. It can be hard not to pick up habits that you learn by example. If your family had problems with excessive drinking, you may be at a much higher risk of abusing alcohol.
Underlying mental illness: Mental illness is a serious risk factor for alcohol abuse. Those who don’t treat their illnesses may discover that alcohol can temporarily drown out some symptoms. That can lead to self-medication with alcohol, usually followed by reliance. What we understand about the interaction between mental illness and alcohol abuse is still filled with missing pieces. Alcohol abuse may be a risk factor for the development of mental illnesses.
Constant or severe stress: Stress is one of the major risk factors for alcohol abuse because alcohol is presented as a stress reliever in life and popular culture. “Happy Hours” and other social events centered around the end of the workday encourage drinking as a way to let off steam. If you deal with high amounts of stress (or prolonged low-level stress) are at risk of developing a reliance on alcohol while using it to resolve stress.
Social pressure: Most people learn how to approach alcohol use from their family and peers. When excessive drinking is common and celebrated, those who are highly sensitive to alcohol dependence are more likely to feel forced to drink amounts that are dangerous to them. Even those who have a low genetic risk of alcoholism can find themselves unable to stop after long-term use.
Lack of support: You are at a higher risk of developing alcohol disorders if you don’t have a support system of people who feel close enough to offer you advice about your choices. Excessive drinking can be stopped before it becomes a habit if there is someone willing to point out that problem drinking has become abnormal or harmful.
There are many other risk factors. Some risk factors may be related to your genetics or to your personal history. There may be risk factors in your life that are unique to you. You may need to work with a counselor to understand all the risk factors that are most likely to play a role in your own behavior.
Alcohol Addiction Help – When to Seek Help For Alcoholism
You may have questions about what seeking help is like before treatment begins. What is it like to talk to professionals about treatment? When do other people tend to begin seeking help for their excessive drinking? This section will introduce you to some of what you can expect to discover when you first are considering help.
There is no hard rule about when it’s time to seek help, but understand that you never have to wait until your behavior is causing damage in your life. No serious doctor is going to send you back home or scold you for wasting time if you’re trying to treat dependence that is still in the early stages.
If you are unable to change your drinking habits on your own, you are allowed to seek help even if you don’t drink an amount deemed “dangerous”. Dependence is dangerous on its own, and the same effects will always require more alcohol at some point.
Here are some examples of real-life situations of problem drinking. If these situations sound familiar, you should speak to a doctor.
Example 1: You no longer attend social events unless you are sure that alcohol will be provided. Work and even friendly social events can be exhausting, and alcohol asserts itself as an easy way to “cut loose” early in life. This can quickly lead to dependence, including a point where you are so dependent that you recoil from events where you won’t have access to alcohol. At this stage, it’s time to seek treatment.
Example 2: You have abandoned prescriptions because they interfere with drinking. If you experience depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses, you may be drawn to the tranquilizing effects of alcohol. When you make changes to protect alcohol in your life, such as dropping prescriptions that can’t be used with alcohol, you are acting dependent and should seek help.
Example 3: You have failed several attempts to quit drinking independently. Even if you don’t drink dangerous amounts of alcohol, you need help if you have tried to stop drinking and have been unable to do so. Moderate drinking should not lead to hangovers or cravings when paused. If you are experiencing ongoing side effects that prevent you from stopping, you may need help.
The Hidden Costs of Alcoholism
Is alcohol abuse treatment expensive? In fact, it is free of cost in many cases, but a better question might be: What does alcohol abuse cost? The short-term effects of alcohol are expensive, and the long-term effects of alcohol can be bankrupting. Are you sure you understand all of the ways that abuse may be holding you or a loved one back from dreams of financial stability?
Getting treatment isn’t just important for you, it’s important for your budget. Here are some of the hidden costs of alcoholism that can make it a terrifying expense.
Constant increasing costs due to higher tolerance: If you become dependent on alcohol, you become dependent on a feeling that becomes harder to reach the longer drinking goes on. Whatever you have budgeted for drinking becomes easier to ignore as dependence affects more and more of your decision-making skills.
Cumulative medical and insurance costs: Drinking is dangerous, and the effects can show on your body for years to come. It can also affect all the parts of your body you can’t see, leaving lasting damage on your organs, skin and mental acuity. Many alcohol-related illnesses can develop into chronic conditions. These conditions are painfully expensive to ensure, and often result in high out-of-pocket costs
Opportunities that were traded for more drinking time: Alcohol dependence affects all parts of life, even when it’s well-disguised. As soon as you believe that alcohol is necessary to function, you will begin making more time for it and canceling other plans. In many cases, the time that is lost to drinking could have been used for professional improvement, personal growth or growing out your list of connections.
Getting Help for Alcoholism Now?
If you’re ready to enter treatment for alcohol abuse now, you’ve already made important progress in your recovery. Getting help is one of the most reliable ways to get access to the treatment you need.
Start your journey by talking to your doctor. If you don’t have a doctor, that’s fine. Many rehab facilities have doctors on staff that you can speak to before you are admitted. Make sure you ask your doctor or counselor about programs and resources that can help you pay for your alcohol treatment.