With any chronic disease, the right treatment plan is crucial to managing the symptoms. Alcohol use disorder is no different. A treatment plan for alcohol use disorder is unique to the individual but may include detox, medication-assisted therapy, and behavioral therapies. However, alcoholism is a chronic illness. For this reason, support groups and meetings are part of the life long recovery journey.
Many people like to have a drink and relax after a long week. However, for some people, they start to drink in excess. As a result, their drinking interferes with daily life and causes risky behaviors like drinking and driving.
When people can’t control their drinking, it has become a health condition called alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder is a chronic relapsing disease. However, the number of symptoms of AUD determines if the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe.
Symptoms of alcohol use disorder are the behaviors and physical outcomes of alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, the results of alcohol use disorder can be risky and dangerous.
For example, people with alcohol use disorder may engage in:
Furthermore, people with alcohol use disorder may also have the following physical symptoms.
But, some people with alcohol use disorder are good at hiding it. They may never miss a day of work or their child’s soccer game. However, inside they may battle depression or anxiety. Above all, they may be afraid to ask for help. But, without treatment, the withdrawal symptoms can cause them to reach for another drink.
There is no simple reason why someone develops alcohol use disorder. Furthermore, no two cases of alcohol use disorder are the same. However, genetic, environmental, social, and psychological factors can play a part.
Alcohol causes changes in the chemistry of the brain. These changes affect pleasure, judgment, and impulse control. As a result, people put themselves in dangerous situations. Besides, withdrawal symptoms from decreasing drinking or quitting can be uncomfortable and even life-threatening.
Individuals in withdrawal may experience:
Generally, withdrawal symptoms are incredibly uncomfortable. After all, an addiction to alcohol means the body is dependant on alcohol to function normally. However, it’s a dysfunctional normal.
However, withdrawal from alcohol can become scary and even life-threatening. The lack of alcohol can put the body into shock because it doesn’t know how to function. The risks of withdrawal from alcohol make professional detox and treatment even more critical.
Even though in 2018, almost 15 million Americans suffered alcohol use disorder, there is still no cure. But, with treatment and the right therapies, the symptoms can be managed. Specifically, managing alcohol use disorder requires a strong support group and chronic lifetime care.
Treatment for alcohol use disorder may be performed in a variety of programs. For example, some centers may offer inpatient treatment along with different outpatient programs. However, other centers may focus on detox and outpatient programs.
To begin with, many people with alcohol use disorder have families and jobs. Responsibilities can make it difficult for people to seek treatment in an inpatient or residential program. However, outpatient alcohol treatment allows individuals to continue working and taking care of their families while also attending treatment.
Outpatient alcohol treatment programs typically offer flexibility in treatment schedules. Even though residential and outpatient alcohol treatment provides the same therapy programs, they are structured differently. Also, outpatient alcohol treatment programs are offered in different intensities.
For example, partial hospitalization requires 5 to 6 hours of treatment a day. Compared to an intensive outpatient program that requires up to ten hours a week. Typically, outpatient treatment consists of 2 to 3 hour-long sessions five days a week. Lastly, outpatient alcohol treatment generally lasts six months, depending on the treatment plan for alcohol use disorder.
When a person seeks treatment, they go through a full mental and physical assessment. At treatment centers like Sana Lake BWC, members (individuals in treatment) are given personalized treatment plans. Furthermore, the plan will address all mental and physical issues of alcohol use disorder. However, treatment plans can change depending on the speed of and any problems that arise in therapy.
Alcohol detox is the first stage of recovery in treatment for alcohol use disorder. During detox, the body rids itself of alcohol. But, depending on the severity of alcohol use disorder, detox can take up to two weeks.
Because withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, medications may be used to ease the symptoms.
Minor symptoms of detox include:
Significant symptoms of detox issues include:
Currently, the FDA has approved three medications to treat alcohol used disorder. But, all of these medications require a person to be free of alcohol. Although there aren’t any medications to make a person stop drinking, the approved drugs can help reduce cravings and promote recovery.
Three medications in the treatment of alcohol use disorder include:
But, medications alone can’t maintain recovery. Therefore, a treatment plan for alcohol use disorder should include behavioral therapies to address alcohol use.
Behavioral therapies are the most common therapies in a treatment plan for alcohol use disorder. Generally, they help members change their thinking as well as their behaviors. As a result, members have the tools to maintain recovery for life.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is helpful in relapse prevention and maintaining recovery. Members in CBT learn to recognize negative thoughts that lead to harmful actions such as drinking. At the same time, members and therapists focus on creating positive thoughts to promote recovery.
Furthermore, members in CBT learn to recognize triggers as well as manage stress. Therapists help members learn coping skills and develop tools to maintain recovery. A comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol use disorder should also include a well-planned relapse prevention plan.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a research-based form of CBT. The focus of DBT is self-acceptance and making positive changes. It can be challenging to learn to accept yourself as well as make the changes to promote recovery.
DBT is held in individual and group therapy sessions. To begin with, DBT in individual therapy addresses harmful or suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Furthermore, DBT focuses on issues that interfere with treatment and recovery.
In addition to individual and group therapies, a treatment plan for alcohol use disorder includes holistic therapies. Holistic therapies promote ‘whole person’ healing without having to talk. At the same time, members start seeing themselves and the world in a more positive light. Holistic therapies may include meditation, art therapy, and equine-assisted therapy.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports more than 7 million children live in households with alcoholism. As a result, alcohol use disorder affects entire families. But, family therapy can help rebuild families. Furthermore, family support in recovery is great motivation to maintain recovery for life.
When a person has alcohol use disorder and a mental health disorder, it is a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Unfortunately, it is common for mental health disorders and alcoholism to co-occur. For this reason, a ‘whole person’ treatment plan for alcohol use disorder is crucial.
To illustrate the importance, members who only receive treatment for alcohol use disorder will not have the coping skills to handle a stressful event. As a result, they may relapse to cope with stress. But, if a treatment plan for alcohol use disorder addresses all mental health and alcohol use issues, recovery for life is possible.
Struggling with alcohol use disorder can leave you feeling helpless and alone. Furthermore, you may wonder, can alcoholism be cured? Although alcohol use disorder isn’t curable, outpatient alcohol treatment at Sana Lake BWC can help you or a loved one find recovery.
Whether your loved one is skeptical about outpatient alcohol treatment or you aren’t sure if you are also struggling with depression, our trained professionals are waiting to help. Contact us today and start your journey to Recovery for Life!