For most people, the occasional drink is something they enjoy but they can live without. For others, on the other hand, the need to drink can spiral out of control and progressively develop into alcoholism. It is when cravings for alcohol are beginning to take over someone’s life that they should consider seeking professional help.
Although alcoholism is quite a widespread problem in America, there are still a lot of misunderstandings about what is involved in its treatment. For someone taking the first step towards sobriety by entering into an alcohol treatment program, knowing what is in store is important so that they have realistic expectations about what is achievable.
In this article, we address this issue by explaining the different processes involved in the treatment of alcohol issues in an attempt to encourage more people in need to seek the right kind of help.
Alcohol Rehabilitation Definition
Rehabilitation from alcohol addiction and dependence involves a combination of medical and psychotherapy treatments with to goal of achieving continued abstinence. A treatment program at alcohol rehab centers can either be residential or outpatient and patients are committed to abstaining for the duration of their treatment.
People who should attend alcohol rehab are those whose life has started to be affected by their drinking. Any person who is suffering detrimental effects of alcohol abuse is likely to have alienated many of the people closest to them and may have also become unreliable as a parent or in the workplace. The ultimate goal of alcohol rehab is to restore balance in someone’s life so that they can enjoy a life in sobriety with healthier relationships and have the ability to make better choices independently.
What Happens During Alcohol Rehabilitation?
Assessment and Evaluation: When someone first enters alcohol rehab facilities, they will be screened by medical staff to assess a variety of factors including their personal circumstances and physical health. This usually involves a physical examination. Patients will also under psychological assessment to determine whether there is a co-occurring mental illness and to what extent alcoholism has developed in each individual. The information gained from these assessments will be used to create a personalized alcohol treatment program.
- Alcohol Detox: If it is necessary to go through withdrawal once a patient has quit drinking after prolonged abuse, detox will be carried out under full medical supervision as the next stage of treatment. Withdrawal from alcohol usually presents symptoms from around 3 to 5 hours after the last drink and they can sometimes be severe, which is why it is always advisable to undergo alcohol detox in a specialist facility.
- Individual and Group Therapy: Once detox has been completed, it is crucial to address the underlying influences that created alcoholism in the patient. This is best done through one-to-one and group therapy sessions, which often represents a patient’s first opportunity to talk openly about what they are going through. Guided individual therapy allows patients to explore themselves to identify what drives their compulsion to drink, giving them vital clarity and understanding of their issues for more effective recovery.
- Behavioral Therapy: An important tool for coping with the daily stressors faced in recovery is learning to modify negative behaviors and replace them with healthier choices. Therapists at alcohol rehab centers generally provide some form of cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT so that patients are able to focus on their responses and reactions to stressors and maintain their sobriety for the long-term.
- Prescription Medications: There is consistent research being undertaken to discover the best treatments for alcohol dependence although there are some medications already used during alcohol rehabilitation including anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants. In cases where patients are dual diagnosis and have co-occurring mental health conditions, they will be prescribed specific meds for their illness and others for their addiction. Many people will continue to take medications through recovery for as long as they require them.
- Aftercare Support Network: A considerable benefit of attending a specialist facility for alcohol misuse and abuse is that patients encounter others dealing with similar issues in group therapy. There is significant potential to form very close bonds in rehab, because of the life-changing nature of treatment and the camaraderie of traveling the same route together. This support extends beyond the rehab facility when treatment has been completed and can be a vital lifeline through the many years of sobriety ahead.
Getting Help for Issues with Alcohol
It is very easy for someone struggling with addiction issues to withdraw from the people closest to them. This can often lead to their problem remaining concealed, which can ultimately result in their addiction becoming worse. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that does not simply go away, even if someone successfully detoxes for a period of time. Denial is commonplace among people who are starting to lose control to addictive urges and so they often fail to take the first step themselves.
Nevertheless, whether a person makes an active choice to enter rehab or is forced to by family and friends or the legal system, it marks the beginning of a journey to a much more rewarding and healthier life in recovery, surrounded by the full support of others.