If you have or someone you know has been diagnosed with alcoholism, chances are you’re familiar with a few treatment options. In order to have been diagnosed, you’ve likely also attended counseling, either in a private or a group setting.
However, many of the programs which are intended to diagnose alcoholism don’t actually help to solve the problem. In some cases you may feel tempted to return to drinking, and in worse cases you may feel judged by those who have diagnosed you.
You have options. Just as there are drug rehab centers for those with meth or other dependencies, there are solutions to help alcoholics recover from addiction (see Stages of Addiction to learn where you are).
Alcoholism Treatment Options
There are three categories of alcoholism treatment options. Those are inpatient, outpatient and medical. Sometimes medical treatments will be used in conjunction with in- or outpatient drug rehab treatment.
The FDA has approved a handful of drugs to assist in the treatment of alcoholism. Most of these medications curb cravings for alcohol. Unfortunately, however, they do nothing to tackle the psychological dependency which can be associated with drinking. For that, those suffering from alcohol addiction may choose either inpatient or outpatient treatment.
We will look at both options in this article – it’s up to you and your healthcare practitioner to decide which will be most suited to your needs and your lifestyle.
Before you begin any serious treatment for alcoholism, it’s likely that you’ll undergo an alcohol detox program. If we’re being honest, the most commonly “prescribed” detox method is simply abstinence.
We’ve covered alcohol withdrawal in other articles, and you can find more information about possible detox symptoms there. To assist in alleviating the symptoms of withdrawal, and to help curb your cravings for alcohol, your doctor may prescribe one of the available alcohol treatment medications.
Alcohol Treatment Medications
As mentioned, there are a few alcohol treatment medications available for those who suffer from alcoholism. Antabuse is one of the oldest of these. It was approved over 50 years ago, and works by limiting your body’s ability to absorb alcohol.
Naltrexone is another commonly prescribed drug. It blocks receptors in the brain which cause alcoholics to both crave and to derive pleasure from drinking. It is sometimes prescribed to those addicted to heroin as well.
Campral is prescribed to assist in lessening the negative effects of alcohol withdrawal. It can help to minimize the shakes, insomnia and anxiety associated with alcohol withdrawal.
Topamax is the least commonly prescribed of the alcohol treatment medications. It may help to reduce drinking in some alcoholics. This, however, has not been evaluated by the FDA. Gabapentin and Valium, two drugs that have abuse potential themselves, may also be used in alcohol treatment facilities and by alcohol treatment specialists.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous
It’s likely that if you’ve been prescribed medication, you’re also interested in becoming involved in outpatient therapy services. Alcoholics Anonymous is one such group.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12 step program which has been around since 1935. Meetings are held daily in locations around the world – some are private but others are open to the public. Some meetings also allow friends and family members of alcoholics to attend. Still others are held online.
Do Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Work?
Those who regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings swear by them. There are many options available to alcoholics. Some meetings allow drinkers to talk about their problem, and still others are simply led by a speaker.
With such a wide range of meeting formats, it’s easy to find a group which will suit your needs. You can attend as little or as frequently as you like; as stated, meetings are held daily in most regions.
Alcoholics Anonymous Apps
Some alcoholics also swear by the Alcoholics Anonymous apps which are available for both Android and iPhone. Users liken them to a religious person carrying scriptures in his pocket – encouragement and reinforcement for sobriety are literally a click away.
The apps also provide information for meetings in your local area. If you’re traveling, for example, the Alcoholics Anonymous apps might be a useful tool for you.
Taking a Drug and Alcohol Course
Not interested in a structured meeting? You can find drug and alcohol courses both in person and online. Now, you may already know this, as sometimes these courses are court ordered. This is particularly true in cases of domestic violence and felony charges.
Courses may be taken in a group setting or one on one through state programs. The one on one offerings are generally held as a part of a more in-depth counseling treatment for alcoholism.
What is Alcohol Rehab?
For those who feel that a rehab program is more appropriate, there are inpatient centers located throughout the United States and in other countries.
Alcohol rehab is an immersive program. You’ll live on a drug and alcohol free campus, you’ll attend classes and AA or AA-style meetings, and you’ll be surrounded by those who suffer similar addictions to yours.
Alcohol Rehab Centers in the US
There are over 14,000 drug and alcohol treatment centers in the United States alone. While some of those centers are inpatient (immersive) only, still others operate on an outpatient basis. You may be required to check in with a counselor or a sponsor.
If you’re interested in finding an alcohol rehab center in the US, we recommend that you check with your physician or your counselor. These professionals will be able to offer you insight as to which have worked for their patients in the past. Together you can find a treatment center which will suit you and aid you in overcoming your addiction.
Alcohol Treatment Centers: What to Expect
What to expect when you visit an alcohol treatment center will most certainly depend on the program you choose. Some centers are quite luxurious, complete with equestrian programs and on-site organic gardens.
Other centers, particularly the state-run facilities, offer nice accommodations without the frilly amenities. These are the most basic of alcohol treatment centers.
Regardless of which you choose, however, you’ll see commonalities between centers. Expect to leave your laptop at home. Anticipate a requirement to attend lifestyle-changing classes. Expect to attend recovery group meetings. And expect to get kicked out if you show any signs of alcohol or drug use while enrolled.
How Do Recovering Alcoholics Survive?
Recovering alcoholics survive day by day. Once the initial withdrawal period is over, and the physical symptoms have subsided, abstinence becomes a choice.
It’s a tough choice – one which requires a phenomenal amount of willpower and emotional fortitude. But the decision to stay clean is one that you can make, regardless of your alcoholism symptoms.