Addiction is a disease, and the medical community recognizes it as a relapsing brain disease today. When a person becomes physically dependent on alcohol, the person needs it to function and may experience withdrawal symptoms without it. Addiction occurs if someone knows the harm alcohol can do but cannot stop drinking. This guide covers important signs of addiction or alcohol use disorder, treatment options, therapeutic approaches and other important information.

Recognizing the Need for Alcohol Treatment

There are several important components of identifying alcoholism signs and knowing when to seek help for an individual problem or on behalf of a family member.

Signs of Alcohol Dependence

Identifying signs of alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder can differ depending on whether a person is trying to identify their own signs or someone else’s signs. The signs and symptoms people may recognize in themselves include:

  • Experiencing restlessness, nausea, shakiness or sweating when alcohol wears off
  • Drinking more often
  • Cannot stop drinking despite trying
  • Feeling uncontrollable, overwhelming cravings
  • Spending most of the day hungover or drinking
  • Experiencing problems at work
  • Diminishing personal relationships because of alcohol use
  • Withdrawing from usual activities
  • Cannot stop drinking despite negative health effects
  • Gradually or quickly increasing volume of consumption

If a loved one or coworker is addicted to alcohol, these are some common signs:

  • Changing behavior with mood swings
  • No longer shows interest in usual activities
  • Poorer performance at school or work
  • Seems tired, hungover or cranky most of the day
  • Smells like alcohol or hides alcohol at work
  • New legal or financial problems
  • Poorer hygiene

Understanding the Risks of Untreated Alcoholism

Alcoholism that is left untreated negatively impacts the life of the sufferer and those around the individual. People can wind up losing friendships, jobs, homes and more. They can also experience physical long-term effects of alcohol misuse. These are some potential long-term effects of untreated alcoholism:

  • Higher risk of certain types of cancer
  • Weakened immune system and more frequent illnesses
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Liver disease

Acknowledging the Need for Help

Acknowledging the need for help is the first step, and it can give a person the strength to actually reach out for help or agree to get treatment. One encouraging part of getting treatment is knowing that there will be a strong support system from therapists, medical staff and others who are trying to get sober.

Components of Effective Alcohol Treatment

The choice to seek help takes courage but can still feel scary. Many people do not know what to expect, and understanding the components helps alleviate some anxiety. These are the key parts of treatment.

Comprehensive Assessment

Every person has a different history of life experiences, health risks and more. Treatment facilities conduct these assessments to better serve the full needs of each person and to make sure treatments align with physical and mental health needs.

Individualized Treatment Planning

Once all individual needs are identified, the next step is creating a treatment strategy. This covers a variety of aspects like whether a person will stay in a facility or use outpatient treatment and more.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, hepatologists and other professionals may participate in a patient’s treatment program. Which specialties are involved may depend on individual needs. For example, a hepatologist may not be involved unless a patient has liver damage or another liver-related problem from alcohol misuse. A multidisciplinary approach is important for treatment and for preventing relapse.

Addressing Cooccurring Disorders

If a person has underlying mental health needs, a special approach called dual diagnosis treatment is recommended to ensure proper treatment of addiction and psychological needs. Without properly managing mental health issues, a person is more likely to relapse and turn to alcohol to self-treat symptoms.

Family Involvement and Support

Families are encouraged to participate in a loved one’s recovery and treatment program. They may do this by attending family therapy.

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

Aftercare programs may include inpatient or outpatient treatment. Recommendations from therapists depend on individual factors. The purpose of aftercare is to prevent relapse and provide the individual with support.

Types of Alcohol Treatment Programs

There are several types of programs. These are the main types of alcohol addiction treatment structures and their benefits.

Inpatient Treatment

Also called residential treatment, people stay in a facility 24/7 for a specific period with this structure. It is beneficial for people who have a high risk of relapse or do not have a supportive living environment. Continual supervision with no access to alcohol reduces relapse risks during a critical time. Treatment length varies. Detox is often an inpatient structure for the safety and comfort of people as they go through withdrawal. Since some people may be at risk for seizures, medical supervision is important during alcohol detox.

Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment may or may not be intensive. An intensive outpatient treatment program involves longer sessions. They may be more frequent than standard outpatient treatment. For people who have a stronger support system at home or outside the treatment facility, an IOP or other outpatient structure may be ideal. People who have family, school or work commitments may find it more beneficial.

Partial Hospitalization Program

A PHP is a step between residential treatment and an IOP. In many cases, people have therapy five times weekly with sessions being about five hours. They do not sleep at the facility. This is beneficial for people who cannot commit to inpatient treatment but require more in-depth care or have higher relapse risks.

Sober Living Homes

These homes are structured spaces for people who do not have a safe living situation outside treatment facilities. Also, they can be helpful for people with a long history of alcoholism or those with high relapse risks. They provide a structured environment with a focus on recovery.

Therapeutic Approaches in Alcohol Treatment

In all the therapy structures discussed earlier, there are several therapeutic approaches. These are the main ones.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This approach helps people discover their behavior causes and the roots of their triggers. It is effective for helping people learn more about themselves, why they make the choices they do and ways to manage triggers or change behaviors.

Motivational Interviewing

In MI therapy, professionals work to understand patients by listening to them, not judging them and empowering them. The goal is to use guiding principles to encourage people to make positive changes or reach their goals. It is also an effective way to help people change problematic choice patterns.

Family Therapy

Family members participate in this structure, which is where they learn specific ways to help a loved one, draw boundaries and how addiction works. Family therapy is not limited to blood relatives. People who are close to an addicted individual and consider that person family can attend family therapy today. This approach is effective for helping families heal and build better relationships.

Group Therapy

As the name suggests, this therapy involves a group of people who struggle with alcoholism and a therapist to guide the meeting. Members share their stories and struggles, offer encouragement, provide feedback and learn from one another. After treatment, they are encouraged to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step group meetings on their own. A 12-step structure is similar. However, people who are newly sober also have a sponsor who has a longer sobriety history. The meetings provide people with a support system and encouragement to stay sober.

Complementary or Alternative Therapies

Many facilities treat the whole person. To do this, there may be programs to address other psychological, spiritual or physical needs. Exercise programs, equine therapy, yoga, meditation, nutritional counseling and music therapy are some examples.

Choosing the Right Alcohol Treatment Program

It is important to work with an accredited program and qualified staff. The right program depends on the length of addiction history, dependence severity, personal needs and other individual factors. For many people, insurance and cost are important considerations as well.

Seeking professional treatment is the best choice anyone in Florida can make for overcoming alcohol addiction. Allure Detox in West Palm Beach is fully qualified and is here to help. Once a person reaches out for help, there is support to get through all the next steps. To learn more about treatment and the many rewards of living a sober life, please call us.

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