Alcohol abuse and, ultimately, alcohol addiction does not discriminate. Its effects are felt on a global scale, with all ages and social groups vulnerable to its damaging influence. The road to recovery starts with the alteration of existing behaviors, but it’s important to recognize that the necessary changes will not be easy.
What starts with alcohol abuse treatment reaches far beyond the initial rehabilitation period. Recovery is an important, lifelong process that one must work for long after treatment ends. Educating yourself about the process of recovery from alcohol abuse is an important first step towards achieving sobriety, or in helping a loved one in need.
Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox
We’ve mentioned withdrawal from alcohol as one of the defining symptoms of alcohol or drug dependency. For anyone physically dependent on alcohol, the withdrawal process is inevitable. The array of symptoms experienced might include:
- Pronounced anxiety.
- Autonomic instability.
- Irritated mood.
- Muscle tremors.
- Hyperhidrosis (sweating).
- Acute hallucination.
- Profound confusion.
An alcoholic may initiate drinking behavior at the first sign of these undesirable symptoms, prolonging the cycle of maladaptive drinking behavior. To be sure, a person in acute alcohol withdrawal may feel terrible, but in some situations, the actual withdrawal effects themselves can be quite serious–even life threatening, such as seizures. Furthermore, the time period that these dangerous effects may occur is quite prolonged–lasting from one to three days after the last drink was consumed. For these reasons, during this dangerous period, a physician or other trained medical professional should be on hand to closely monitor the person in the midst of acute alcohol withdrawal.
As one might guess, the daunting prospect of weathering these symptoms until they subside is one of the many factors that prevent people from quitting. But, as withdrawal from alcohol is something that needs to occur prior to recovery, many treatment centers provide medically supervised detox programs to help usher a patient through this time span as comfortably and safely as possible.
Alcohol Treatment Options
The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that, of the estimated 23 million individuals needing treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol addiction problem, a mere fraction of that number ultimately received the help they needed.
It’s quite a shame, because there are thousands of alcohol rehabilitation centers around the country, each offering a variety of treatment options to help someone struggling with alcoholism. Treatment can be provided on either an outpatient or inpatient basis, and carried out over varying treatment lengths.
Many inpatient or residential treatment centers offer 28-, 60- or 90-day alcohol rehab programs, with length of stay tailored to the severity of the problem that needs to be addressed. Additionally, treatment methods may vary from center to center. 12-Step alcohol programs are a well-known, time-tested approach to recovery from alcohol dependency, and employed by many treatment centers.
Outpatient treatment centers offer many of the features offered in a residential program but with the freedom to live at home. These programs are preferred by many who find it impossible to spend an extended stay in a residential program; however, it is best suited to those who are assured a supportive environment at home that fosters their recovery efforts.
If the spiritual approach associated with a 12-step alcohol program is not to your specifications, there are also a number of non-12 step alcohol rehab centers to effectively address abuse issues. If you or a loved one needs treatment, and want information about existing rehabilitation options on how to help an alcoholic, read our list of Top Rated Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers.
Alcohol counseling has many benefits that can help your alcoholism treatment program. The tools and techniques you learn in counseling can be applied to situations you may face at work, school and even your personal life. Although parts of counseling can be difficult, you will be able to uncover underlying issues that may have fueled your drinking and find out how to overcome them. Without digging deep, you will only be patching the problem short-term.