Year in and year out, recovery from alcoholism is a vital health topic in the U.S.
That is true because millions of Americans are affected by alcoholism or a related condition.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of people with alcohol problems never get treated.
Despite this fact, there are a variety of things you can do to recover from drinking-related issues.
Recovery from alcoholism begins with recognizing that you have a problem.
After receiving a diagnosis, you can seek effective treatment for your condition.
And once you finish treatment, you can support your ongoing recovery with the help of continuing care.
Alcoholism is closely related to another substance problem: non-addicted alcohol abuse. How do the two problems differ?
People with alcoholism are affected by two overlapping issues.
The first of these issues is physical dependence.
If you are physically dependent on alcohol, you must drink in order for your system to feel “normal.”
If you drink less than your system expects, you will experience alcohol withdrawal.
The second hallmark of alcoholism is psychological or emotional dependence. This form of dependence changes how you think and act.
The most important change is compulsive, alcohol-seeking behavior.
This behavior is the engine that drives alcoholism.
People only affected by non-addicted abuse are not alcohol-dependent.
All the same, their lives are significantly damaged by the ways in which they use alcohol.
This damage can appear in ways that include:
Alcoholism and non-addicted alcohol abuse are so closely related that they are viewed as part of the same condition.
The name of that condition is alcohol use disorder, or AUD.
This disorder has a total of 11 possible symptoms.
Most AUD symptoms are related to alcoholism.
However, several are related to alcohol abuse.
Combined symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol abuse are common.
You may suspect that your or your loved one has alcoholism or AUD. However, to know for sure, you must get an official diagnosis. Healthcare professionals who can make an AUD diagnosis include:
Both types of professionals will look for potential signs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. You are affected if you have at least two AUD symptoms. The more symptoms you have, the more serious your case of AUD. This will have an impact on what kind of treatment program you need to recover.
Steps of recovery from alcoholism begin with detox or detoxification. This is the name for what happens when you stop drinking and go through alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms of this form of withdrawal are sometimes severe. In fact, they can lead to potentially life-threatening complications. For these reasons, anyone affected by alcoholism should be medically supervised while going through detox. This is a vital safeguard for your health and well-being.
One of the main goals of supervised detox is to keep you safe and comfortable while alcohol leaves your system. In addition, detox doctors will take steps to reduce the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. Several kinds of medications may be used to help you during alcohol detox. Examples of these medications include:
You may also need targeted treatment for major withdrawal complications such as seizures or delirium tremens. Options used for this purpose include:
All of the alcohol will be out of your system by the time you complete the detox process. This is a major achievement. However, alcohol detox only marks the first steps of recovery from alcoholism. Active treatment is necessary to help you turn initial sobriety into long-term sobriety.
Modern rehabs use both medication and therapy to support your recovery from alcoholism.
Medication provides support by helping you steer clear of an alcohol relapse while in treatment. It will also help you restore some of the damaging brain effects of alcoholism.
Options that help you achieve these goals include:
Along with medication, you will receive behavioral therapy. All therapies of this type are designed to do such things as:
Treatments that support these crucial goals include:
There is also a therapy option designed to introduce you to mutual self-help groups. The name of this treatment is 12-Step Facilitation Therapy. Mutual self-help groups can help you stay sober during treatment. They also play the same role for people who have completed alcohol treatment.
Many people in recovery from alcoholism also suffer from other mental health disorders. Co-occurring cases of these two conditions go by the name dual diagnosis.
Doctors will check for dual diagnosis when looking for symptoms of AUD. If you are affected, you will need treatment that suits your specific health issues. That means receiving mental illness treatment, as well as alcohol addiction treatment.
Successful alcohol treatment will leave you with the skills needed to stay alcohol-free. However, this does not mean that you will not experience problems in the future. In fact, relapses are common, even for people who do well in treatment.
To help keep your recovery going strong, enroll in a continuing care program after completing alcohol treatment. In continuing care, you periodically check in with treatment specialists for follow-up help. These check-ins give your care team the chance to assess your progress. They also help you strengthen your efforts to remain sober.
Recovery from alcoholism requires commitment and effort.
With the help of trained specialists, you can achieve your goals for getting sober and staying sober.
That is true for anyone affected, even people with severe AUD symptoms.
Your doctor or addiction specialist will let you know if have alcoholism or AUD.
If the condition is present, alcohol detox is the opening step in your recovery.
To avoid potential complications, Alcohol detox gets you started on the path to stable alcoholism recovery.
For your own safety, do not try to detox on your own.
Instead, find a medically supervised program staffed by trained professionals.
After detox, continue your recovery in a rehab program designed for AUD treatment.
The medication and therapy you receive in treatment will help prepare you for long-term sobriety.
A continuing-care program will help you maintain that sobriety and avoid relapses.
Need more information on effective recovery from alcoholism?
Just contact the specialists at Pathfinders.
Our expert advice will direct you toward the best possible treatment options for your circumstances.
Pathfinders is also a preferred provider of alcohol rehab services.
Our many program choices support recovery from mild, moderate or severe AUD.