Treatment for alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder is “doctor-speak” for what it’s called when people can’t control how much they drink, when they drink, or what happens when they drink alcohol. It also refers to your emotional regulation difficulties even when you are not drinking.

Some people believe that besting an addiction to alcohol involves stronger willpower, but in reality, it is not something you have to work through on your own. Alcohol use disorder is a brain disease, and treating this on your own is akin to trying to treat diabetes on your own. Willing yourself not to have a disease simply does not make it so.

Almost 3 million Americans suffer from alcohol use disorder, the medical term for alcoholism.

Alcoholism is a serious, but also manageable condition. Luckily, there is medical and psychological treatment available to help those who suffer get on and stay on the path to recovery.

Do you have alcohol use disorder?

Here are some questions to help you determine if you are struggling with alcohol. Answer as honestly as you can.

  • Are you having trouble controlling what you drink?
  • Do you lie or cover up how much you are actually drinking?
  • Are you experiencing troubles in your work or personal relationships?
  • When you start drinking, do you find you can’t stop?
  • Do you feel like you “have to have a drink?”
  • Do you feel anxious when you can’t drink?

These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself, and if you say “yes” to any of them, you may have a form of alcohol use disorder, which ranges from alcoholism (not a medical term) to heavy drinking. Consulting your doctor may be a good first step, but remember that a majority of general physicians do not know as much as they probably should about this disease, so you may need to investigate options yourself.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Options

  • Detox and Intake

    There are a lot of options for treatment. You can and probably should start with a medical detox, and this occurs in a hospital or managed treatment setting. Then, you will transition to inpatient or outpatient rehab. When you begin the treatment process, you will have an assessment performed by an intake coordinator, who will then recommend the appropriate level of treatment for you, and the center will work with your insurance company to help manage the approval process. They need to exhibit medical need for you to get the type of treatment you need, so be as honest as you can.

  • Alcohol Inpatient Treatment

    With inpatient (sometimes referred to as residential) treatment, you will stay at the treatment center for a while. There are 30, 60 and 90 day programs, and you can usually stay for as long as your insurance agrees is medically necessary. Since alcohol use disorder is a disease, you are protected from discrimination from your place of employment, and you are able to utilize FMLA benefits to take the needed time off without fear of losing your job. In addition, your HR department as well as your insurance company is required to keep all health information confidential.

  • What is Inpatient Treatment Like?

    Inpatient treatment centers come in all shapes and sizes. Some people prefer to travel far from home to get away from the same scenery and sights and sounds. Others prefer to stay close – it really depends on your desires and what is offered in your area. You can find a center where you get your own room, or you share a room, catered or homemade food, gender-specific or coed. Good things to look for in an inpatient treatment center are the types of treatment they offer as well as their continuum of care, which is how much of the treatment spectrum they cover, from detox to inpatient and beyond, to outpatient and aftercare.

  • Alcohol Outpatient Treatment

    If you are recommended for outpatient treatment, this means you will live at home and attend treatment groups at night and/or on the weekends. Some more intensive programs are in the daytime and run for several hours at a time, but you will still return home to sleep. These programs will perform random urine analysis (UA) tests to ensure you are maintaining your sobriety.

Getting Help for Your Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use disorder is a progressive and deadly disease that takes many years to wreak its devastation on a person and his family. When signs and symptoms of alcoholism begin to manifest, discuss the problem with an addictions professional who can assess the situation and who will consult with you on the best way to proceed. An intervention may be necessary, or maybe there is willingness to go directly into a rehabilitation facility.

There is hope. Every day, alcoholics are finding real and lasting solutions to their problems.

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