Alcohol

3 Forms of Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Drinking alcohol is part of the American character. It goes back to the days of Colonial America. However, drinking habits have changed over the last two decades.

The years 2020 and 2021 exacerbated the alcohol use disorder (AUD) statistics as the lockdowns placed many individuals in despair. However, binge drinking had already started to receive attention.

From 2011 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of individuals engaging in excessive drinking increased by 12 percent. In addition, the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics found that drinking among American adults increased 60 percent during the lockdowns.

Any substance disorder is characterized by an individual’s dependence on the chemical. AUD symptoms include:

  • Abuse
  • Dependence
  • Addiction

Once the individual can no longer complete their daily activities without consuming alcohol, in this case, they fall into the AUD category.

The good news is that those who want help can obtain it.

We outline the three forms of treatment for alcohol use disorder.

1. Detox

When an individual admits that they have AUD, their recovery begins with detox. The goal is to rid the patient’s bloodstream and body of the substance. Alcohol is a downer. This makes detox a dangerous process.

In a detox program, trained staff monitor the patient. The patient experiences withdrawal; the longer the AUD, the more severe the symptoms.

AUD withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Body tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Hypertension

Since alcohol is a downer, it changes the brain’s chemistry. The substance places the brain in a hyper-relaxed state. Therefore when the brain lacks alcohol, it wakes up again. This causes discomfort.

Alcohol withdrawal takes place in three stages, mild, moderate, and severe.

The first stage lasts eight hours after the individual’s last drink. The second stage is most prominent one to three days after the last drink. If the individual does not receive treatment, the second and third stages can blend and last several months.

Nonetheless, the first form of AUD treatment is detox.

2. Therapy

The second form of AUD treatment is therapy. Therapy helps a patient talk through their disorder in a group and one-on-one setting. The goal is to alter the patient’s habits and mindset. Plus, the individual learns coping skills.

Therapy options for AUD include:

  • Cognitive behavior
  • Support groups
  • Family
  • Psychotherapy

Therapy takes place in an inpatient and outpatient setting. It helps the individual work through the second stage of detox that lasts several months. Known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptom, an individual must work their way through the early stages of abstinence.

A great way to maximize therapy is to enter an inpatient program. They last between 30 days to one year depending on the patient’s circumstances. Inpatient programs also offer experiences and amenities such as those outlined by Hollywood Hills Recovery.

For AUD treatment, therapy after detox has significant success. Alcoholics Anonymous got its start in 1935. The program still has support and several chapters across the United States.

Attending a meeting helps the individual overcome their craving at that moment. The longer patients put off taking another drink, the longer they remain abstinent. Ideally, the process shrinks the potency and frequency of cravings.

If you can’t attend a session in person, online options are at your disposal too.

3. Medication

The medical community continues searching for medications that help individuals overcome their addiction to alcohol.

Picking a treatment for AUD is a personal choice. It is well-documented that America remains in the middle of the opioid crisis. Moreover, it becomes more dangerous as individuals opt to consume fentanyl.

Therefore, opting for medication for AUD poses a new set of concerns.

Medical professionals continue testing medication for AUD that reduces cravings and encourages abstinence. Holistic medication options include vitamins and sedatives.

Medication options for AUD are:

  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate

It’s possible to enter a program that combines medication for AUD and therapy, known as pharmacotherapy. The medical community views alcoholism as a chronic disease. The relapse rate for AUD is between 40 to 60 percent.

Pharmacotherapy seeks to help the patient manage their condition. Professionals aim to teach patients how to cope with cravings, withdrawal symptoms and triggering situations.

Conclusion

First and foremost, individuals experiencing an alcohol use disorder can find help and treatment. Overcoming an alcohol addiction is different from a substance use disorder. Nonetheless, help is available.

Treatments for substance use disorders including alcohol are no longer cookie-cutter. Inpatient and outpatient programs personalize treatment to the needs of every individual. Treatment is more effective; it takes into account the patient’s environment, triggers, and presence of co-occurring disorders.

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