When a person is considering or has agreed to receive treatment for alcoholism, they are no doubt wondering what treatment options are available and which will work best for them.
Before treatment even begins there is detox to navigate. Detox is not treatment but a precursor to treatment. Many people are understandably apprehensive about the detox process knowing that they will be without alcohol upon which they have depended for so long. In addition, they worry about enduring withdrawal symptoms. The good news is that medically assisted detox can make the procedure much more comfortable and there will be a professional staff on hand to provide support and encouragement.
An available option for detox at some treatment centers is natural assisted detox – NAD – which is a combination of vitamins minerals and nutrients administered intravenously, which soothes withdrawal symptoms while accelerating the detox process.
When a person is admitted to a treatment center they will be thoroughly assessed by a professional staff who will design a treatment program specific to their particular needs. A thorough assessment will determine if a person is exhibiting any signs of underlying conditions which may accompany the primary condition. To ensure a successful outcome all conditions must be treated simultaneously. For example, if alcoholism is accompanied by depression, both conditions must be treated at the same time.
Treatment consists of a combination of therapy and medication. Some clients do well with one or the other, but most do best utilizing both.
There are three FDA approved medications for the treatment of alcohol addiction, naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram. A fourth medication, topiramate is showing success in clinical trials.
Naltrexone blocks receptors which are involved in the rewarding effects of drinking and is highly effective in some patients but not all, perhaps due to genetic differences.
Acamprosate helps reduce symptoms during the withdrawal process including insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, depression and irritability. It is often more effective in patients with severe dependence.
Disulfiram disrupts the absorption of alcohol, leading to unpleasant symptoms if a patient drinks while on the medication. If one imbibes during treatment, disulfiram causes an accumulation of acetaldehyde and subsequently flushing, nausea and palpitations ensue. It can be difficult for some patients to comply, but for those who are motivated, disulfiram can be very effective.
In some cases, a client may need to also make use of medications to help with co-occurring mental health issues. These can include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, anti-psychotics etc.
Therapeutic options are also important to one recovering from alcohol addiction.
Depending on an individual’s circumstances, one or more forms of therapy may be helpful in their recovery process.
One commonly used therapy option for recovery is Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT has demonstrated great success in helping clients with addictions. A client will have one-on-one sessions as well as group therapy, which is supervised by a therapist. During individual therapy, client and therapist will discuss the improvement of family relationships, employment, any legal problems and other subjects.
CBT therapy focuses on replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts by redirecting them to achieve a healthier outcome. Therapists teach clients coping skills to enable them to deal with potential future temptations and the avoidance of relapse.
As deceptively simple as it might appear, it is a very useful tool for clients and one which they can draw on even after discharge. During treatment a therapist may even designate homework for a client so they can practice. Group therapy allows clients to share their own stories if they wish and listen to the experiences of others. It is often comforting to know that others have shared similar experiences and that a person is not alone.
Other helpful forms of therapy can include Solution-focused brief therapy and Dialectical behavioral therapy. There are also alternative therapy options one can use including equine therapy, yoga, mindfulness, art therapy etc.
Post recovery, self-help support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can provide support and encouragement to remain sober. Such groups reduce the sense of shame and isolation which can lead to relapse. For family members, Al-Anon is a very helpful resource providing information, help and support.
If you would like further information or have questions on alcohol addiction or where to find help, please call Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help to speak with a member of our team. They will be happy to assist you.